Wyoming Trip 2013 Part Two - Gros Ventre Campground and Grand Teton National Park

Northwestern Wyoming is a true place of the west, a wilderness of dust and waters and stars and peaks and wind. if you go be sure to bring hand lotion. stay outdoors all day. we were the only sedan on the dirt road, everyone else drives big trucks, and it's no wonder.  
Pearl Street Bagels in downtown Jackson. espresso, fresh fruit cups with greek yogurt, mexican salsa cream cheese on fresh homemade bagels: perfect.

the big kids had geared up for a visit to the ripley's believe it or not  in downtown jackson. they were beside themselves with excitement. jarom even offered to pay for joey's ticket out of his own wallet. naturally the big boys had to take them in to see the marvels. oey got too scared and joined the rest of us in the park across the street where a little church operates a thrift store. i found lucy a soft european-made bowling toy set.

and that afternoon we were onward to our next camping site at Gros Ventre (pronounced Gro-Vont) Campground in the southern end of Teton Natl Park under cottonwoods along the Gros Ventre River.
Appropriately, Emily just informed me that Gros Ventre means "fat belly." You better believe it baby.

We walked down to the river to see a moose mama and her calf browsing in the underbrush and sipping from the water. Well, only Amy and Lucy saw the calf as they went out there first. By the time the rest of us showed up, mama moose was mostly covered by the tall grasses, but it still felt good to be near her. oey explored all through the brush and we were all alert to every drift of wind and wild call around us.

After dinner we took in the sunset and romped the wild fields at Mormon Row, a historic settlement from the 1890s featuring the iconic Moulton Barn set against the dramatic landscape of the Teton Range. mormon settlers worked hard to establish a community here: digging irrigation systems, farming, and building a cluster of 27 homesteads in a manner much different than their isolated neighbors. there was a community swimming hole and a dump, hay derrick and church and corrals. much of this is gone now, but it was interesting to explore the ruins that are left in the quiet empty space of twilight. as the kids ventured into an old barn that had been left unlocked and chased each other, pretending to be zombies, i couldn't help imagining a hundred years ago. the same sounds of children's shrieks and laughter, a mama carrying her baby through the dusk, calling her husband to come and sup.

Lucy was a little nervous of my brother Matt at first, which is rare for her and kind of hilarious. she did warm up to him quickly on the trip....

...as long as he wasn't teasing her.

Another cozy campfire followed by a good deep sleep.  something was always walking through our camp in the middle of the night. or i'd hear emily waking joey to walk her to the bathroom at 3 a.m. sleeping in a camp encircled by animals and your family, wrapped in extra blankets with a snoozing babe tucked into your side, is the coziest feeling in the world. 

another gorgeous day in the mountains. 

we checked out the state of the art Moose Visitor Center where i touched various animal pelts and learned about the trapper named "Beaver Dick" Leigh who named Jenny Lake after his Shoshone wife. She and all six of their children died of smallpox in 1876. he wrote to a friend that year, "i am all alone and i keep doing at some thing from daylight to dark every day. i am very lonsome." more hauntings of these western ghosts, and hanging over all, the sweeping shroud of tragedy of the native peoples of these lands. shoshone and blackfoot and crow, gros ventre and flathead. how long did their encampments dot these rivers in the summers, camas root roasting underground? how many more times would their smoke streak these skies? i later read about nez perce skirmishes in the north, but i had a hard time finding information on the relationship between the settlers of the teton area and the native tribes already living on or passing through these landscapes. walking here i feel splinters of bone and blood in the earth, a whistle through the reeds, all those who came here seeking shelter, spirit, stone.

we headed to the old fashioned general store at menor's ferry, a charming place indeed. 

Bill Menor homesteaded this place in the 1890s when he saw a need for a ferry at this narrow spot in the river. he built a 5 room cabin, icehouse, smokehouse, country store, barn, and of course the hand-operated ferry across the snake river. apparently a very crafty guy, he made and applied his own whitewash to the buildings, using his brother's limepits from across the river. we enjoyed the restoration of the general store with all its quaint trinkets and memorabilia, as well as books and bonnets and sundries for sale.

fireweed blooms by the smokehouse door.

nearby is the famous Chapel of the Transfiguration, a rustic log church built in 1925 and still functioning as an Episcopalian meetinghouse and a scenic spot for weddings. What a view! We relaxed there for a little while, Lucy practiced walking on the carpet, and she even got to ring the church bell.

wildflowers were abloom everywhere we went.

we spent the afternoon doing some hiking around Colter Bay. Darin, Emily, toot and i split off from the rest of the group for a nice hike around the bay, over a gravel spit, and through the woods to the edge of massive sparkling Jackson Lake. the rest of the group climbed to the summit of Grandview Point for a view of the whole valley.

we loved our adventurous little romp and found it strange to walk and explore in complete solitude. it felt like we were a band of castaways on some magical island. 

Tootie was in heaven sitting on the warm rocks and picking up stone after stone to examine, taste, and toss. 

photo by darin

that night we went back into jackson one last time for dinner at a mexican place we had spied the other night. we had a great meal but it was after quite a long wait and the kids and lucy were WILD ANIMALS! it was kinda funny to see lucy getting crazy right along with her cousins, actually much worse, banging things, throwing things, and demanding food! two and a half hours at one small restaurant is just too long for little ones i discovered. at the very end of our meal we had some very special additions to our party...mikie and marisa showed up after 26 hours on the road including a quick sleep in cedar city utah. their arrival was so exciting and of course the kids went even more nuts! when we left, lucy was asleep within one minute of getting in her carseat and it was the second time she fell asleep deeply enough in the car to be transferred into bed without waking or nursing. i didn't know it yet but i think that night dried up the rest of my measly milk supply and bam, she was weaned. more on that later. and so much grandeur to come as we head up into yellowstone!


Tera said…
How dreamy! I just love what is left behind and the time travel it offers and your account of your time travel. I laughed when I read about Lucy getting crazy with her cousins, so cute. Such a gorgeous place, have to visit, it's incredible.
Heather said…
wow what a great trip so many wonderful sights it makes me really miss the taller mountains I have the foothills around me here but not the same as the big ones, makes me want to go back to Alaska hehe or maybe I need to take a trip north thanks for sharing Love Heather
Teeny said…
I loved this leg of the journey, felt like I was there right alongside the Beattys and the rest of you. I want to do more of this in my own life, travel with family, camp out, celebrate. And ha! the kids getting ruckus at dinner! I can relate! When it's time to go, they let you know it right! love to you xo
mary said…
tried to comment on that last post three times last week...so i'll just give you the important bits 1. love the meet and greet and 2. toots looks like her grand pop!

i loved the feeling of settling in with this post, you communicated the way the rhythm felt so perfectly. so many amazing experiences! that history re: the indigenous folks is fascinating. and all the old trinkets at the store. call it golden age thinking, but i could sit around looking at old tins all day!

what i love the most is the way your cast of characters weaves in and out, each one coming and going and being a part of the ongoing narrative of the adventurous now. xo
anne said…
what an exciting and beautiful trip! wonderful words to go along with the gorgeous pictures! i think it's so cool that you all go on a trip together every year. what an awesome family tradition.
Amy Beatty said…
dreamy dream xoxo that pout fave with matty is priceless-ly adorable. LOVE that bum on the rocks too. miss my family and tootie love xoxo

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